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"I like bringing people back to life."
Sharon Long (SL) and Steve Sutter (SS)
SL: I had to take an anthropology class. But I didn’t even know what it meant. So I went home and I looked up anthropology and I thought, ‘Study of mankind, oh that sounds interesting.’ So I took physical anthropology and bang, I decided it’s what I want to be when I grow up.
SS: You’ve done how many skulls?
SL: Something like 86. I get totally psyched into what I’m doing. Just like people must do when they’re writing music or painting a painting. You forget to eat, you forget to get up, you forget to drink water you forget everything. Everything just sort of goes into suspension. And 12 or 15 hours later I have a face. You know and I, I feel a connection, ‘cause I think about them as a person like me. They loved people and had family and drank tea with their friends. But, you know, murder victims bother me a lot. I try not to think about ‘em being in pain because then their face comes out looking like that. So I try to think about ‘em being happy.
And I, I like bringing people back to life. People ask me, ‘how’d you do that?’ And I think, boy, I don’t know. It just comes out the tips of my fingers.
But I observe a lot. I’ve watched people in airports and in restaurants and I’d say, ‘Look at that guy’s skull. God, look at the cranium on that guy. Whoa!’
SS: I remember talking to you once and you start staring at my forehead and you say, ‘Can I feel your brow ridge?’ (laugh)
SL: (Laugh) Aren’t I awful? I do that with people that are friends. See I can say, ‘Can I poke on your face a little.’ I can’t do that at the airport.
SS: So you’ve talked about retiring.
SL: Well now see, you know, I’m getting older. My hands hurt. I’ve got arthritis. And I thought, ‘No, no I can’t do it anymore.’
But, I’m telling you, I look back and I can’t believe my life went this way. It just seems like it’s all been a big, long dream.
StoryCorps 467: More Purpose and Passion
Hear stories from the companion CD to our latest book, “Callings: The Purpose and Passion of Work,” narrated by StoryCorps founder Dave Isay. Listen
Vito de la Cruz and Maria Sefchick-Del Paso
Civil rights lawyer Vito de la Cruz grew up in a family of migrant farmworkers. He describes his childhood and the loving aunt who raised him.
StoryCorps is America’s oral history project. Since 2003, StoryCorps has collected more than 60,000 interviews with over 100,000 participants from all backgrounds -- the largest single collection of human voices ever gathered.
Recordings are archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress so that future generations can hear the stories – and the voices – of today.
We share stories online and through our popular weekly NPR broadcasts, podcast, animated shorts, and best-selling books. StoryCorps is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.